Lock 13
PublisherSevern House
Date Published29 December 2017
Price£ 20.99

Lock 13

by Peter Helton

Artist and PI Chris Honeysett is asked to track down a dead angler who miraculously seems to have come back to life six years after his boat capsized. But he’s sidetracked by the disappearance of his life drawing model.


If you don’t go for quirky, look away now. Lock 13 is the latest in Peter Helton’s cosy series featuring an artist/PI with a silly name, a run-down watermill near Bath as his abode and fairly relaxed personal circumstances – his much younger girlfriend (also sporting a silly name) has been known to sleep with one of his mates, who just happens to be a former breaking and entering expert.

Chris Honeysett doesn’t always seem to be doing much arting, so to speak. And he’s not over-burdened with PI work either, despite having a nosy streak as wide as the M4. Mind you, he’s always desperate for dosh when you’ve got a house that eats money like his does.

In Lock 13, he’s offered a job by some insurers who want a missing man tracked down. Keen fisherman Henry Blinkhorn died when his boat capsized in the Severn estuary. So how come, six years later, he’s on the front cover of the Angler magazine? The insurers had paid out a large sum on his death, and they’d like their money back, please … Chris is a man who’s easily sidetracked, though, and when his life drawing model Verity Lake disappears, he sets off in search of her.

If you fancy a scenic tour of the canals of Bath and Wiltshire, then Lock 13 may well be to your fancy. And Helton definitely likes his unusual rural chases – a previous book had a memorably daft one down rural lanes, while the canal is just too tempting this time out.

If you’re a regular cosy consumer, some of the wobbles in Lock 13 might not bug you as much as they bugged me. Helton is rather king of the foreshadowing – you know, the ‘had I but known’ approach. Our hero isn’t a logical bloke – he sidelines a potentially well-paid gig in favour of looking for a missing woman where there’s no money at stake. And if you’re attempting some breaking and entering, and are angsting over not leaving a trace, would you really open a bottle of Scotch and get pissed? There are a few too many coincidences and it’s all tidied up rather too neatly so everyone can get home in time for tea.

But Lock 13 is still a pleasant, good-humoured read boasting some sparky dialogue – and sometimes you can’t ask for more than that. Don’t expect too much realism and you won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed 09 June 2018 by Sharon Wheeler